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"... arise From death, you numberless infinities of souls, and to your scattered bodies go..." -- John Donne


Riverworld / Television 


Here are some pertinent developments regarding the series, and our commentary thereof.  

Horses on the Riverworld?  

The First Plot Summary

Horses on the Riverworld:

According to a recent extra report, actor Kevin Smith's character Valdemar is described as riding a horse!  This disagrees quite distinctly from the novels: there are very few animals on the Riverworld, and none of them resemble horses.

This could mean one of two things:

1) Proyas and Hazeldine have changed this aspect of the Riverworld universe; horses and possibly other animals can and do exist there.

2) This scene that our scooper described is a depiction of Valdemar's life on earth before dying and subsequently appearing on the banks of the River hundreds of years later.

We're hoping for the second explanation.  

The First Plot Summary: 

This is from Kclyn's
Brad Johnson Online, used with permission: 

My early scoop on "Riverworld" is that  this is a pilot with an option for a television series for the Sci-Fi channel. 

This is consistent with what he have learned so far.  

Plot Summary: Could be a spoiler if you do not wish to know what the basic storyline is about. 

Astronaut Jeff Hale is on a space shuttle mission with his crew when the shuttle and earth is destroyed with what is believed to be space debris.  

This is obviously a huge departure from the books.  The character of Sir Richard F. Burton has been replaced with an American astronaut (the closest that we Americans have to great explorers, as Burton was).  His shuttle is destroyed; this is consistent with the premise of Riverworld, in that every character is dead.  

But the destruction of earth...this is something else.  

Early in the novels, it is considered common knowledge among Riverdwellers that the end of the world came about some time in the early 22nd Century, by way of an alien invasion.  Spoiler: this proved to be a false story circulated by Ethical agents to cover their actions in the River valley.   

But destruction by space debris?  This doesn't make a whole lot of sense...this could be a problem with the scooper's information.  

A group of Ethicals, which run the universe,  

This could be hyperbole; the Ethicals were indeed powerful beings, capable of crafting entire worlds and by all appearances invented the human soul.  But to describe them as running the universe is probably just an exaggeration.  

...believe the human race is not worth saving, until a Mysterious stranger takes the stance that indeed these humans should be saved. 

This is a small departure from the novels, but not much.  Spoilers: the Ethicals determine that some humans are worth saving; it's up to each individual to exhibit a higher morality during his time on the Riverworld.  Those that succeed will move on to eternal life on a different world, those who fail will be banished, their souls wandering the universe for all time.  Also, the Mysterious Stranger's goals are not exactly benevolent: part of his motivation is to keep his family's souls, or wathans, from Ethical judgment.   

 A mass 'rebirthing' takes place in a unknown world along a mighty river. All those who once lived on Earth, from Neanderthals to Emperors, to the victorian girl who was the inspiration for "Alice in Wonderland"...

Very consistent with the novels.  Not surprising, since this is the essential premise.  

...are born from eggs far below the rivers surface. As they come to the surface, they find themselves resurrected as 30 - 33 years olds in this strange new afterlife.  

Eggs?!  Well, this is not all inconsistent with the books.  Spoilers: the chamber in which the resurrectees are held before being reborn on the River contains fields of energy around each person that could be described as eggs; in fact, it's not an unwelcome change if these "pods" are compared more directly to eggs.  These folks are, essentially, being born anew, and the egg is an ancient symbol of this. 
 

But it is Jeff Hale who is the first to be awakened, early  we discover,  by the Mysterious Stranger.  Hale is the chosen one, the one human the ethicals are watching as an example to see if the human race should be saved. 

This is not the case in the books.  Spoilers: Burton (Hale's antecedent) is not the only person chosen by the Mysterious Stranger, and the Ethicals themselves had nothing to do with Burton's being chosen.  The Mysterious Stranger was well aware of Burton's history; he was an adventurer, an intellectual and a firebrand.  If anyone could get to the headwaters of the River (as is the Mysterious Stranger's end goal for those he chooses), it would be Richard F. Burton.  But the Mysterious Stranger did arrange for Burton's (Hale's) early awakening...this obviously hasn't changed.  

But Hale has other plans. His early glimpse spurs him on to suicide mission after sucide mission, to keep being reborn, moving up the river everytime as he works  to uncover the truth of the Riverworld.

In the books, Burton did not engage in suicide missions as much as he committed suicide.  And he did not necessarily move up the river each time; translation (the act of being reborn on a different part of the River) was random, without any consistent pattern.  

This last (and most interesting) part shows a great possibility for the series:

Perhaps Jeff Hale could die (or commit suicide) in the end of every episode, with a little vignette at the end to tease the viewer with a setup of the next episode.  Like Quantum Leap before it, Hale could be the only consistent character, with a new batch of supporting players in each location.  There are literally billions of characters out there for this series.  The end goals would essentially be the same, without much resolution until, possibly, the end of the series.  Both Sam Beckett and Jeff Hale are doing what they can, getting as far toward their goals as they can, helping people in the process.

This is probably not going to be the case, but I can definitely see something similar, possibly with Hale being resurrected each time with his cadre of fellow adventurers (see the cast list for more on that).  

  

  
About a year ago, Alliance Atlantis Entertainment announced the opening of preproduction on a tv series based on Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series of novels.  

Alex Proyas would head the production team, serving as creative director and executive producer.  

With production finally underway, and filming currently taking place in New Zealand, it seems that we numberless infinity of fans will finally get our wish.  

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design and original materials (c) 2001  J. Hazlett Foreman